Australian family reunites after 50 years

Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 11:37 am

The four Pethtel sisters, Becky (l or r), Faith, Kathy and Dawn.

The four Pethtel sisters, Becky (l or r), Faith, Kathy and Dawn.

It was 1963, and Edna Pethtel needed help. Her marriage to her husband had fallen apart, she had been diagnosed with cancer the year before and she was struggling to make ends meet. Life in America had not been easy for the Australian World War II “war bride” since she arrived in San Francisco in 1946 with 12,000 other Australian women who had married American soldiers.

After 17 difficult years in the states, Pethtel set her mind on returning to her homeland, along with her five children. A group of Louisa residents banded together and made that dream a reality.

Fifty years later, Pethtel – now Edna Spradlin – and her family are still giving thanks.  The family held a reunion on Saturday, Sept. 7, and the feeling of gratitude was apparent.

“I would have never been able to have made a change in my circumstances without this care and support,” Spradlin said of the gifts that were donated by members of the community.

After moving to the United States in 1946, Spradlin and her husband moved 32 times to six different states during her 17 years in America. In 1961, her husband took a job as a manager at Jerdone Castle Farm. Within two years, his business had flopped and he left the family.

Pastor Spurgeon Pascall of Belmont Baptist Church and Spradlin’s neighbor, Rev. Leslie Newman, who preached at Little River Baptist Church, were the first to provide assistance for the family by supporting them through prayer and supplying housing. Their aid helped keep Spradlin positive through the rough ordeal.

To read the entire story, see the Sept. 26 edition of The Central Virginian.

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